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Oil found near national cemetery

NATCHEZ — Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis has a new nickname for Ward 1 — the richest ward in Natchez.

That’s in part because the Magnolia Bluffs Casino will open in Ward 1 later this year, but more immediately because there’s black gold in Ward 1’s hills.

In November 2011, the aldermen gave the OK for the development of an oil well that would be accessed from Marblestone Road, near the Natchez National Cemetery.

“About two weeks ago they called me and told me they were ready to go in, and I had told them to call me if they found anything,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

“They called me back and told me they had hit.”

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said the exploration well, drilled by DRAYCO, utilizes directional drilling to reach under the Mississippi River.

“It is supposed to be a very good well, and the city is fortunate enough to have a sizeable interest in it,” Brown said. “We own 3/16th of the well.”

The mayor said the pressure on the well is good enough that it should flow on its own for some time before it needs to be pumped, and the property also presents the opportunity for the drilling of two more offset wells.

“It can be very profitable for the city,” Brown said.

Revenues generated by the well will be directed into the city’s general fund, he said.

Arceneaux-Mathis said the new well is the first new source of income for the city from that area that she knows of since she took office.

The alderwoman said she has no problem with the revenues from the well being used in other parts of the city, but she would like to see the well fund infrastructure improvements in the Marblestone area, a cause she has long championed.

“Since it was drilled and found in Marblestone, my thing was, ‘Let’s do something for the people, since this is going to impact them, they have to listen to the well and the equipment going down their road,’” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

As part of the well-site approval, DRAYCO had to coordinate its operations with school bus schedules, national and city cemetery events and city events.

The company was also required to post a bond to cover damages to Cemetery and Marblestone roads that might occur during the development of the well.

Representatives from DRAYCO could not be reached Wednesday.